By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery has written legislation that would change decades old private sector workplace rules regarding over time and how we work. Roby’s Working Families Flexibility Act would allow workers to voluntarily negotiate flexible work place schedules with their employers that currently are forbidden under the Fair Standards Labor Act of 1938. Representative Roby’s bill (H.R. 1406) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives now the legislation is starting to get support from influential conservatives in the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Roby reported that the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, which was sponsored by Roby and passed by the House in May, now has Senate companion bills that are gathering support from some influential conservative Senators.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) from Kentucky has introduced the “Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act” and has spoken in support of the bill on the Senate floor today. Sen. Mike Lee (R) from Utah introduced the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” following a reference of the legislation in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday about a conservative reform agenda. The similar bills are gaining co-sponsorships in the Senate from Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R) from New Hampshire, Tom Coburn (R) from Oklahoma, Ted Cruz (R) from Texas, Orrin Hatch (R) from Utah, Ron Johnson (R) from Wisconsin, Rand Paul (R) from Kentucky, James Risch (R) from Idaho, Pat Roberts (R) from Kansas and Marco Rubio (R) from Florida.
Rep. Roby said, “I was proud to champion the Working Families Flexibility Act in the House on behalf of working moms and dads, and I’m excited to see the bill gain traction in the Senate. I appreciate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Mike Lee, as well as all their Senate co-sponsors, for stepping forward to carry this important legislation. To have so many influential conservatives behind this bill sends a powerful message about our commitment to empowering Americans with more freedom and more flexibility in the workplace.”
The conservative congresswoman said, “Talk to just about any working mom and dad and they’ll tell you they need more time. They need just one more hour in the day to be able to take care of responsibilities and make life work. We can’t legislate another hour in the day, but we can help working Americans better balance their time by removing unnecessary federal restrictions on comp time in the private sector.”
Congresswoman Roby’s The Working Families Flexibility Act: Allows employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and comp time for overtime hours worked. Employees who choose to receive cash wages would be able to continue to do so. The employer and the employee would have to complete a written agreement to use comp time. The agreement would be entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee. This protects all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued. Employers would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers could ‘cash out’ their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so.
As passed by the House, The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 would allow private-sector workers to receive paid time off, or “comp time,” for overtime hours worked. A working mom or dad could use an hour of overtime he or she earned as paid “time and a half” off work instead of “time and a half” cash, if that’s what they prefer. The “comp time” option is legal and commonly used in the public sector thanks to a 1985 revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, but remains restricted by federal law for private businesses and their employees. No worker could be forced to take paid time off, and no business owner could be forced to offer it.
Rep. Roby said that she was pleased to see the Senate taking up this bill that shows how applying conservative principles can help working Americans in their everyday lives.
Very few House bills are being taken up by the Democratic controlled Senate so Roby’s bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. If passed by the Senate it would still have to be signed by President Barack H. Obama (D).